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File 155395121694.png - (2.85MB, 2000x1308, c8753c14a4e8e39578daffa0399d4512.png) [iqdb]
31190 No. 31190
[x] Fairies! Damn it!

You curse as you take her hand. "It's fairies. Has to be."

Sanae laughs, clearly less disturbed by that fact than you are. "What makes you think that?"

Ah. You never did tell her about them, did you? "A trio of them gave me some pretty bad grief yesterday. This seems like something they'd do."

"Hmm." She looks around yet again. "Well, I don't see any."

Dusting yourself off, you look again. Yeah, you don't see any either. But you do think you hear a faint giggle from the brush.

"Did you hear that?" You ask.

"Hear what?"

"... never mind."

It'll be no good if you crack on only your second day. As long as you watch your footing, you doubt there's much a fairy could do to you next to the river like this anyway. It would be pretty impressive if they managed to fell a whole tree on you.

Steeling yourself, you go back to work on a new cairn. You're making pretty good pace, actually, though you doubt you can keep this up all day.

*rustle*

Just then, you hear a sound in the brush.

[ ] <ignore it>
[ ] <quickly toss a rock>
==============================================================
Might get one in tomorrow, actually... but we'll see.
129posts omitted. Last 50 shown. Expand all images
>> No. 31322
[x] Try to fish for more information.
>> No. 31324
... or I could vanish up my own behind for a while, instead. Sorry about that.
I'll post one tonight, then resume as normal on Thursday.
>> No. 31325
[x] Try to fish for more information.

"Huh?" you ask, a bit bewildered. Strange that things would change so quickly. "Why's that?"

Momiji doesn't answer for a few moments, but eventually says, "It just has. I didn't ask why."

"I wonder if it's not going well..." Sanae mutters to herself. Then, speaking up, she adds, "So, you're telling us to leave, right? What happens if we don't?"

Momiji doesn't bother answering, as if that much was obvious. Although she does glance slightly to the large sword at her side.

"Danmaku, right?" You wonder out loud.

"For her," Momiji says, "For you, we'd take you prisoner and question you after besting her."

"That's... still better," You say, forcing a laugh before Sanae can start to get too worked up, "Yesterday it was death."

"We shouldn't be talking," Momiji finally says, "If you will be passing through, please do so. Otherwise, leave."

"Where does your land start? It's somewhere around here, right?"

Momiji nods. She shows you some markings on the rocks that can be used to tell where. Once you realize where they run, you can't help but laugh. You see that the door you just came out of is probably a half inch behind that line. So, walking around the side of the rock pile it resides in, you look to her.

"That's good, right?"

Momiji sighs, shaking her head. "Technically. But I wouldn't play games. I am being lenient, but others might not be."

Sanae nods, heading behind the line herself. "Hmm. Well, it sounds like if we don't cross it, we'll be ok. Technically."

Momiji nods. It's hard to tell with her, but you don't feel that absolute coldness you felt yesterday. But she seems intent on staying where she is and watching you two.

Sanae turns to you, scratching her head. "Well, that's kind of annoying, isn't it? Hmm."

[ ] Chat a bit with Momiji. It's 'technically' fine now.
[ ] Strategy meeting? You'll just pass through to the shrine.
[ ] Back to the lower river... it's not quite lunch time yet.
===============================================================
Man, I'm really distracted lately. Sorry about this.
>> No. 31326
[x] Chat a bit with Momiji. It's 'technically' fine now.
>> No. 31327
File 155920845633.jpg - (27.58KB, 780x439, Fit_to_be_tied.jpg) [iqdb]
31327
[x] Chat a bit with Momiji. It's 'technically' fine now.
>> No. 31328
[x] Chat a bit with Momiji. It's 'technically' fine now.

You're at a loss, yourself. While you process this new revelation, you decide to chat a bit with Momiji. Should be no harm in it now. And, honestly, you're feeling a bit cheeky.

"So... I don't suppose you take bribes or anything, right?"

She glares back.

"Kidding, kidding," you laugh, "Aah, it must be boring having to guard the border all day, though."

"It's not. It's even been more lively than normal lately."

As she says that, she looks to you two intently. Sanae laughs.

"I bet," she says, "There's probably not too many humans that try to come up here on their own, right?"

Although Momiji looks like she's going to answer, she quickly decides against it and says nothing. Huh. Now, you're really curious. You wanna poke more. Even if she doesn't know anything useful, that reaction is kind of fun.

"We've got to finish setting up the road signage," You continue, "Maybe you'd like to help? Might be less boring than watching us do it."

"Aaah, yeah," Sanae says, as if she'd forgotten all about that after the kappa visit, "I wonder if that bear is still waiting? But a strong tengu would be a real help, too."

You hear a rather solid *thunk* behind you before anyone really has a chance to do something else. It's plastic sounding, but beyond that, you're not really sure what it was.

A... film case? It's been years since you've seen actual film, but you're sure that's what this is. You look up.

"Geh."

Among the branches of the tree, you see a now-familiar crow tengu. She looks like she's in a real awkward position, though - it's no wonder she dropped something.

[ ] <Snatch up the film case>
[ ] <freeze>
>> No. 31329
[X] <Snatch up the film case>
>> No. 31330
[x] <Snatch up the film case>
>> No. 31331
[X] <Snatch up the film case>

birb begon
>> No. 31332
[x] <Snatch up the film case>
>> No. 31333
[x] <Snatch up the film case>

Birb pls go
>> No. 31334
[x] <Snatch up the film case>

You look back to the film case. It's definitely on your side of the line, and it's not too far out of reach. With a second look back to Aya, you sprint the few steps over towards it. That second glance shows you that you won't go unopposed, so you decide to dive for it.

"Oof!"

... as you do, something lands on your back. The impact knocks you out of the air a bit earlier than you had planned. But, somehow, you manage to stretch your arm out and grab the film. Whoever is above you reaches for it, but you quickly tuck it under your chest.

"H-hey! Are you OK? Get off him!"

It all happens so quickly that Sanae takes a second to figure out what's going on. But, it seems she's realized now. The pressure on your back lifts a bit, but you stay rolled over to better guard your capture. You give Sanae a thumbs up with your free hand.

"Tch. You're faster than you look, shrine boy."

Sanae kneels down beside you. "What's going on?"

"He's got my property," Aya says, from a few steps behind you now, "I saw that he was going to snatch it up, so I tried to stop him without hurting him. He's fine."

"I snatched up some film she dropped," you say, stating your case to no one in particular. Then, to Sanae, you add "Here."

Quickly, and carefully, you manage to get it handed off to Sanae. She stashes it in one of her many hidden pockets, tucking it away from prying hands. And with that taken care of, you stand up - with the help of your new boss.

Aya's expression is... hard to read. She looks amused, but it's completely at odds with how Sanae looks, so it feels a bit sinister. "It's just some pictures of you setting up some stones, dealing with kappa, and chatting with our admirable guard here."

With that last bit, she smiles at Momiji. Momiji doesn't smile back. It looks like she's more focused on the situation, rather than what people are saying. Turning back to Sanae, though, she grins a bit.

"Oh? Still angry about this morning? Don't worry, you just need some time to become competent," Aya laughs, sounding absolutely sincere. "It's not going to happen overnight! And, I definitely think it won't happen over a few hours. So... you can give that back, right?"

[ ] Comment on how unpleasant she is.
[ ] Encourage Sanae to give up the film.
[ ] Encourage Sanae to give it another go.
===================================================
I'll try for tomorrow later in the afternoon. Monday isn't going to happen... busy all day. Tuesday seems unlikely as there's a funeral I need to go to, but maybe.
>> No. 31335
[x] Encourage Sanae to give it another go.

Seems like we can't give up the film and Aya ain't the type to give a damn about what you think about her.
>> No. 31336
[x] Encourage Sanae to give it another go.
>> No. 31337
[x] Encourage Sanae to give it another go.
>> No. 31338
[x] Encourage Sanae to give it another go.
Solid reasoning
>> No. 31339
[X] Encourage Sanae to give it another go.
>> No. 31340
Guess it's tomorrow instead.
>> No. 31341
[x] Encourage Sanae to give it another go.

You look at Sanae. Yeah, she's fired up. Not... angry, per se, but definitely looking a bit rowdy. There's no chance she's going to give it up on her own. She catches your gaze. Nothing needs to be said, so instead you just give her a small nod.

"I want to try again," Sanae says, "That's how these things work, right? If I lose, I'll give it to you."

Aya seems pleased at her attitude. But rather than looking at Sanae, she looks to Momiji. "Hmm. Well, we could play again if you want. How about you, though? You look like you want to try."

Momiji looks a bit surprised at being called out. "W-well... yes. We didn't have the chance when we first met."

"Haha! Great!" Aya laughs, turning to Sanae. "If Momiji here loses, you can keep the film. How does that sound?"

Although she does hesitate a bit, Sanae eventually agrees. Both her and Momiji slowly rise into the air. It looks like they both don't want to be too hemmed in by the falls or the trees nearby, so they move themselves over into open ground. On the not-tengu side of the border, of course.

"Great! Ah, that's great," Aya says, getting her camera ready. You guess she must have at least some film left in the camera. To you, she asks, "Playing danmaku is fun, but watching it can be fun too. Don't you think so? You must have seen a bunch by now."

She's not asking for an interview this time, but you can't help but suspect she's angling for one anyway.

[ ] Cold responses.
[ ] Warm responses.
>> No. 31342
[x] Cold responses.

Trust not the birb.
>> No. 31343
[X] Warm responses.

Eh, might as well.
>> No. 31344
[x] Warm responses.

Let's not make enemies.
>> No. 31345
[x] Cold responses.
>> No. 31346
Coin flip: tails!
... heads being the first option.
>> No. 31347
[x] Warm responses.

The battle between the two starts with an eruption. No build up on this one, you guess - they're just going to go all out against each other.

"Sure. It's definitely fun to watch."

You're not sure if it's a good idea or not, but you decide not to be too cold to her. You'll still be careful with your answers, but maybe she'll be less willing to exaggerate.

"So, now that she's not around, I want the juicy details," Aya says, "What were you two up to last night?"

Ah, back to that. You laugh a bit. "You really took that too far, you know? It's really nothing like that."

"Oh. Really?" Aya wonders, sounding a bit disappointed. "I thought for sure it was true when I saw her this morning. You know, even if she denys it, with a flustered face like that no one is going to believe her."

It turns out she's not really that interested in interviewing you after all. Rather than a flurry of questions, she seems to be focused more on the battle.

"Huh. You know, maybe our guard wasn't the best choice for this battle."

"No?"

"She's not very original - if you can dodge it once, you can dodge it again," Aya says, sighing. "Hmm, that's no good! She's one of our better guards."

"Do you two know each other?"

"We go back a ways," Aya nods, "She--- wait, isn't this backwards?"

"Huh?"

Her response makes it sound almost like she's talking to herself. "... though, I guess the border guard being incompetent is a better story for tomorrow, so maybe it doesn't matter too much. Thanks for giving me an excuse to have those two test each other! This is a great scoop."

She looks away from her camera for a brief moment to say that last bit. It's clear she's enjoying all this.

[ ] Watch the battle
[ ] Idle chat with the crow
============================================================
Probably nothing till Tuesday since it's kind of a busy weekend and I won't be home much. But maybe I can sneak one out tomorrow morning.
>> No. 31348
[x] Idle chat with the crow

Ah, how the turn tables.
>> No. 31349
[x] Idle chat with the crow
>> No. 31350
[x] Idle chat with the crow
>> No. 31351
[x] Idle chat with the crow

birb
>> No. 31352
[x] Idle chat with the crow

Although you keep one eye on the battle, you decide that this might be one of your better chances to get to know this person. You doubt she's going to leave you alone for a while.

"She's one of the better guards?"

"Eh? Yeah," Aya says half-heartedly. She seems to be mostly focused on the battle for now. "Can't you tell?"

"Well, I've not been here that long. And she's the only guard we've dealt with."

"She's... hmm, well, let's just say she's a pretty high rank," Aya says, "We take our borders seriously. So to be trusted as a border guard means a lot. That's why you guys are being treated so harshly now."

"Is that right?"

Aya nods. "We were kind of in shock yesterday. But we're a bit more back to normal today."

"Huh. So, that's how you'd normally greet strange people?"

A particularly brilliant set of danmaku flows from both sides, and the crow snatches it all up with a quick flurry of shots from her camera. Then, she turns to you, grinning. "Well, it makes for some interesting news, anyway. I wonder what you'll do?"

"Don't ask me," you laugh, "I'm just the assistant."

"And what a quick promotion it was," Aya nods, turning back to the battle, "You really aren't kidding about that all being a misunderstanding last night, are you?"

You can tell that she means the story about the rowdy party you had. "It really was. That was just some co-workers celebrating. Though, I guess it might be hard to tell that from a crack in the door."

Aya laughs heartily. "Well, even if you two aren't in to each other yet... I wonder... wouldn't that make a good story?"

Yeah, you thought it might go here. "No comment."

"Aw, don't be like that," She says, turning away from the battle for a moment. "I promise I'll treat this part as 100% confidential."

You guess your suspicion is showing on your face, because she laughs again. "Really! I'll even go as far as to say I won't report on anything you say about the matter. Not even 'an anonymous source says X'."

"Why do you want to know, then?"

"Hey," she grins, "I'm a reporter, but I'm also a woman. Who wouldn't want to know? I have no idea if I should be rooting for you two or not."

[ ] In only a few days? It would be a bit cliche.
[ ] Who knows? Gensokyo is a strange place.
[ ] ... no comment.
>> No. 31353
[x] ... no comment.

Let her think what she wants. I think saying anything at all would add more fuel for her.
>> No. 31354
[X] Who knows? Gensokyo is a strange place.

If magic is going to happen, it happening here it would make sense.
>> No. 31355
[x] ... no comment.
>> No. 31356
[x] ... no comment.
>> No. 31357
[x] ... no comment.

"... no comment."

Regardless of what you think, it's probably best not to open yourself up too much to her. You think things are going to get complicated - not just with her, but with the tengu in general. So keeping a few things back might be wise.

"Oh? Well," She says, seemingly more amused than anything, "It's more fun if you won't tell me, anyway. Yeah, that's definitely better."

You almost hesitate to say anything further, but... no, if it is going to become complicated, keeping doors open might not be a bad idea. Aya seems like she might not be that bad once you get past the reporter bit. "Next time, just come inside rather than taking pictures through the door, though."

"Do you think your boss would be ok with that kind of invitation?"

You grin. "Well, I'm not sure what would happen if you do come in. But it's still better than creeping around in the dark. People might get the wrong idea."

"Oh, is that right? Well, danmaku is a fine side dish to go with some sake. But I think, given the situation you and us tengu are in, I'll have to creep around in the dark for now. We'll have to do it some other time."

In a sort of round-a-bout way, she confirms what you've been suspecting. You guess it's probably not too good for her to be seen with you guys all that much. As you consider setting up a night watch, the battle flares up again. This time, though, half the danmaku simply vanishes. Aya chuckles, letting her camera finally take a rest.

"Heh. Guess I won't be getting that film back. ...well, I guess I could just challenge her now. Ahhh... but I said she could keep it if Momiji lost... hmm."

As she talks to herself about what to do next, you strain your eyes to see what the two in the air are up to. You don't need to strain them for long, though, as they appear to be heading this way.

Momiji looks positively beat. Even her landing back on her old rocky perch isn't very graceful, and after making it, she takes a seat. Not something you'd expect a guard to do. Sanae's landing isn't much better, but she mostly just seems out of breath. It's clear it wasn't an easy win.

"Master Aya... I'm sorry."

"No, no, don't worry about the film," Aya says, "There really wasn't anything important on it. You gave it your all, right?"

Momiji hangs her head, but doesn't respond.

"Well," Aya says, turning to Sanae. "The film is yours. I think you've got great potential. We should definitely go all-out on each other next time we get to play."

Sanae, too tired to offer much of a response, just nods back. It seems like the battle sated her desire for revenge, at least for now.

"I'll even throw in a bonus and not report on you guys stealing it from me. Just don't stir up too much trouble, OK? Even a high ranked guard is still just a rank-and-file guard."

She says that last bit while looking at you. Yeah, her message there is pretty clear. 'We'll definitely stop you if you start causing too much', or something like that. The fight was valuable information for your side as well.

At that point, Momiji forces herself to her feet. Even Aya seems a bit surprised by that, chiding her a bit.

"Hey, don't over do it. You got beat pretty badly. I'll watch the border for a bit. So," She says, looking to you, "Where are you two off to next? After you rest a bit, of course."

[ ] Back to the last cairn you placed.
[ ] Up to the shrine to regroup.
[ ] Back to the path. You'll work your way down from here.
>> No. 31358
[X] Up to the shrine to regroup.
Let Sanae rest.
>> No. 31359
[x] Up to the shrine to regroup.
>> No. 31360
[x] Back to the last cairn you placed.
>> No. 31361
... morning/lunch were disturbed today. Back tomorrow.
>> No. 31362
Heh, or my friends could decide to arrive a day early.

I'll be out until, uh... probably next Saturday (22nd). Going on a longish hike and it's hard to update without internet or a computer.
>> No. 31363
[x] Up to the shrine to regroup.

Sanae is too tired, we'll continue later.
>> No. 31364
Back tomorrow. Thought I'd get to it today, but I guess not.
>> No. 31365
[x] Up to the shrine to regroup.

You're not sure... but Sanae looks pretty worn down by that last fight. You decide to offer her a chance to rest and see if she takes it.

"It's about lunch time. Maybe we should head back up to the shrine for a bit and regroup?"

Sanae seems to be on board with that idea, so you turn back to Aya and confirm it. "Yeah. That's what we'll do."

Aya seems to be asking more for Momiji's benefit. "See?" She says, turning to the worn-down guard, "I'll even see them there."

It's a while before you get going. It seems that the fight had been pretty intense, so it takes more than a few minutes for Sanae to catch her breath. Eventually, though, she grabs your shoulder from behind.

"Sorry. Ready?"

You turn around. "If you are."

She nods, before turning back to Aya. "Next time, let's fight ourselves."

Aya grins. "You sure? Well, don't complain when I beat you again. Your assistant says I should break in next time you all are drinking, so don't blame the alcohol - ok?"

"He... what?"

"Nothing," you say. You thought you did pretty well about not saying anything bad, but... well, that little jab just makes you laugh a bit nervously. "We were just chatting a bit. I'll tell you later."

Sanae gives you a suspicious look, while Aya seems amused enough. "You two go first," the crow says. Turning back to Momiji, "I'll follow behind and make sure they don't get 'lost' and end up sightseeing instead, so make sure you take an extra long break. Ok?"

Momiji gives a nod, first to Aya and then to Sanae. "It was a good battle. Thank you."

Sanae nods back. And, once again, you feel that familiar feeling lift you up into the sky - although it feels more clumsy than it does this morning. You really wish you didn't have to rely on Sanae to get around. You begin to wish there was some way you could get around it, but you're just a human.

Although it's slow and clumsy, you make it back to the shrine without incident. It's hart to tell exactly how, but you can feel that Kanako is somewhere around as well.

"Hey, how about another interview?" Aya asks, not too long after you land. "Maybe we could chat over lunch?"

"Definitely not!" Sanae yells, before you have much of a chance to think about it. "Don't you have some more gossip to print?"

Seems she's got some of her fire back. Aya smirks. "Is that how it is? Well, I'll see you later."

The two of you watch her go. "You know," you laugh, after you're pretty sure she's out of earshot. "She's definitely going to print some now."

"Whatever," Sanae says, sighing, "At least we got the film. What were you two talking about?"

"Nothing bad," you say, "She was trying to bait me into saying a few things. I guess she was pretty frustrated that Momiji couldn't beat you easily, though. It sounded like she was going to write on that today."

"... well, it's not like it was easy," Sanae says, "She was pretty tough. It's good that we didn't fight yesterday."

[ ] Get started on lunch right away.
[ ] Take it easy for a bit longer.
>> No. 31366
[x] Take it easy for a bit longer.

Welcome back
>> No. 31367
[x] Get started on lunch right away.

can't give Sanae the chance to catch her breath and make lunch first
>> No. 31368
[x] Take it easy for a bit longer.

Relax
>> No. 31369
Kind of unplanned, but I think it's a good idea for me to not update this for a bit. Back on the 5th.
>> No. 31370
Looking more like 8th now. I took that time off for a reason, but then got sidetracked and ended up in Canada for a bit. Should be able to think now though.
>> No. 31371
Sorry for the triple post, but I'm going to take another week and see where things are.

Mainly I just need some time to reorient myself within this story's world so that it can become interesting to write again, rather than feeling like I'm running on empty and writing just for the sake of writing. I feel like there's not much point in doing that.
>> No. 31372
They are pretty much where they were a week ago. I'll check back near the start of August, since I don't think I'll get too much extra brainpower to use between now and then. Work is going to be crazy for a bit.
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